Premier Jason Kenney announced $3.4 million to help build a centre to help young people who have been abused.
The funding will go towards the proposed $22.4 million Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, which will be located next to Red Deer Polytechnic and will be closely connected with many of its programs from nursing and psychology to education and early learning and child care.
“The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre is changing the way Central Alberta responds to child abuse,” said Kenney at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre on Tuesday.
The premier said statistics show that as many as one in three children may have been abused in their lives and the kinds of services and programs offered by the advocacy centre are the most effective way to meet their needs and provide the support victims need.
Advocacy Centre CEO Mark Jones said Blackfalds-area company Eagle Builders is expected to begin construction on the 66,000-square-foot building this summer for a fall 2023 completion date. It will be located next to the Canada Games Centre on land leased from RDP for $1 a year.
The facility will also house the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, Central Alberta Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network and Alberta Health Services programs such as mental health and addictions counselling out-patient services.
“It’s going to bring everyone into one building. Our focus is to create a centre of excellence where we teach people in different ministries to work together for the common good of kids and in a much more efficient, streamlined way.
“We will really want to lead the way in the way things are done, not only in central Alberta, but to host some international things down the road,” he said.
The link with RDP will give students valuable life experience working with psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers, lawyers, doctors, therapists and others who help young people.
“(Students) will have an opportunity to have first-hand experience with work-integrated learning.”
RDP interim president Jim Brinkhurst said the partnership means students graduating from a variety of programs will be well-prepared to work in the child advocacy field.
Former NHL player and abuse survivor Sheldon Kennedy set up a child advocacy centre in Calgary in 2012 and helped establish central Alberta’s, which has now helped children and families in 91 communities in the past five years.
Kennedy said there are now seven centres in Alberta and 35 across Canada and the central Alberta project will have a big impact on communities and helping those find the support they need.
He is also co-founder of Respect Group, which offers interactive online training to help people recognize and prevent bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination.